When I was four years old, growing up in Kentucky, I had two older siblings in dance. My parents could not afford for all of us to take classes at the same time. So while they danced, I sat on the “sidelines” and watched. I soon became creative and found out that bright orange plastic juice cups made great pointe shoes and thus it began.
I later trained under Anneliese Von Oettingen of Cincinnati, Ohio, originally from Germany, who studied under Eugenia Eduardova and Nicolai Legat. At twenty years of age, under the guidance of Anneliese, I decided to open my own studio. I taught in high school corridors, racquetball rooms, community centers, an old post office, and finally was able to rent a building of my own in town. Twenty years ago, I purchased an old paint and body shop that we transformed into three dance studios, a dancewear shop, a music room, and a business office.
As the studio grew, we started a competition team, and that is when I met Joe Tremaine. The knowledge I gained from him and his staff about dance and business was phenomenal. He always encouraged me to continue teaching the art of ballet in a jazz world. For many years very few ballet numbers were brought to competitions, but Joe always told me to keep working, even when others questioned why I would bring it. But he was right, my students finally succeeded with a Tremaine Overall High Score in ballet.
As my studio grew, I was offered numerous opportunities, including Children’s Artistic Director for the Knoxville/Tulsa Ballet for 10 years. I then went on to create the Great Smoky Mountain Dance Theatre which presents a full length Nutcracker Ballet, performed by students only, in all major roles.
My students have attended summer and year round programs at American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Rock School, and Boston Ballet, to name a few. They have been accepted into dance programs and dance teams at the following universities; University of the Arts, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee Chattanooga, Auburn, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, South Carolina, South Florida, Carson-Newman and Maryville College. I have also had students on the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators. Recently, I had a student attend the academy of “So You Think You Can Dance,” with a ballet solo, and another student who just became a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. My students have also been Overall High Score winners, as well as national title holders.
In my spare time, I judge, both regionally and nationally, for a dance competition, as well as choreographing for many local events.
I would like to thank Joe Tremaine and all his staff for the honor of being named “Teacher of the Year”. With so many wonderful instructors to choose from, I feel especially honored. Thank you all for being a blessing to me, as well as all the other lives that you have influenced throughout the years.